A customer of our’s asked the following question and I thought it would be a good topic for a blog post.
Question: “Is this featured product function for the customer or is this for the google bot?” He was asking if it is important to use the “related products feature” that is seen on many ecommerce sites.
Related products have a positive effect on both customers and google. For customers it can help them find what they are looking for and also can lead to an upsell of an accessory. For Google it is great way to build internal links. Product pages often suffer from only having 1 link to them. One of Google’s ranking factors is how many links does an internal page have? Google see a page that has 10, 50 or 100 links to it as more important then pages that have just one link. Product pages often only have only one link from the product list view. If the product is in more than one category it will have a link from each category. Google does look at the total number of internal links as a ranking factor and a plus for Domain Authority.
That being said Google penalize a site when you do stupid stuff, so a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “is it good for my customer?” Ultimately thats what Google rewards, site’s that people like and are user friendly.
A typical strategy I like to use on big ecommerce catalogs is to add eight related products to every product in the system. From a customer’s standpoint, if they are buying a ski helmet they may also need goggles’ facemask, gloves, whiskey, a flask, etc. If you can’t find something that is directly related then the next item in the category can work (offering a slightly different option). One way to get it done is to take the first eight products in a category and make them each related to each other. This would assure that each of those pages has eight internal links. Then move on to the next group of eight products and do the same.
At the end of the process almost every product page should have about eight or more internal backlinks. Mixing it up a bit is a good idea. Do not go overboard, alway try and put the user/customer first.